16 January 1997 Edition

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Not so independent

On Saturday 4 January my grandmother passed away at the age of 94. When her family submitted her death notice to the Irish Independent, the newspaper refused to print it because they said it might be seen as inflammatory considering the current ``situation.'' The notice, in part, read: ``Mary Byrne, former member of Cumann na mBán and daughter of Thomas Traynor, 3rd Battalion, B Company, old IRA, executed by the British in Mountjoy Jail in 1921. ``

As someone who is rightly proud of my family's involvement in the war for independence, I am shocked that the Irish Independent would deny mention of the fact that Irish patriots were executed by the British. I also cannot see why the mention of an historical fact could be seen as inflammatory in any situation whatsoever. It seems that Irish journalism has been cowed so badly by its attempts to appease our neighbours to the east that it chooses to gloss over the sacrifices of the men and women who fought for the freedom we enjoy today. Unfortunately, by glossing over such facets of our history to mollify our former oppressors, the Independent is saying that it believes the Irish nation to still be under the control of a foreign government. If this is so, then the Irish Independent's readers need to be very careful of putting too much stock in what they read, because who is to tell what has been left out in the cause of keeping Britain happy.

Any newspaper that would deny a grieving family the right to remember its loved ones in the full context of how they died, especially when they died for a cause as just as the freedom of an entire nation, is not worthy to be called a newspaper: instead, it should be billed as a we'll-tell-you-what-we-think-you-ought-to-know paper.

Patrick Woods

Remembering Bloody Sunday

A Chairde,

Sunday 2 February marks the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The dead of Bloody Sunday were killed because they marched as a conscious political act: to speak out against the abuse that was internment and to affirm their aspiration of an Ireland where the human rights of all its citizens, Protestant and Catholic, would be guaranteed. It is a vision still worth remembering and still worth struggling to achieve.

Over the past few years the attention paid to marches by media and some politicians and commentators has increased although generally this has been negative. There has been a move to consider Orange marches and nationalist marches as one and the same. Politically, the marches have absolutely nothing in common but there are aspects of the Bloody Sunday commemorations that those commentators will focus on to make their spurious comparisons. Whilst we are not intending to bow to media or other external pressures we do feel that it is politically expedient to bear certain matters in mind. We are therefore asking the band members who attend the march in Derry to take on board and follow some guidelines before and during the march.

The visible signs of people drinking alcohol is a bad reflection on the occasion. We urge everyone, including band members, to refrain from this.

We are also asking that the following be adhered to:

No chanting of triumphalist slogans;
No wearing of sun-glasses by band members.
Lastly, when each band reaches St Eugene's Cathedral in Creggan Street we request that the bands stop playing and do not play any more tunes. This is to allow any announcements from the platform at Free Derry Corner to be heard by those in attendance. Also, it is intended to have pipers of Piopa Uladh, Belfast to lead the march into Free Derry Corner from St Eugene's Cathedral.
Thank you for your attention to the above matters. If you have any questions or comments regarding the march please ring us on Derry 268846. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.

The Bloody Sunday March Committee 1997.

A Chairde,

On 25 January a march is taking place in London (Highbury Fields to Caxton House, Archway) to mark the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The nature of Britain's presence in Ireland has changed little over 25 years. Nationalist anger at loyalist marches has ben met with the firing of plastic bullets, curfews of nationalist areas, and the upsurge in intimidation and harassment by British security forces.

The forthcoming general election may once again see the issue of peace in Ireland sidelined. We in Britain have a voice and must ensure that this does not happen. If you support all-party peace talks and the scrapping of repressive legislation, join the march on Sunday 25 January.

The Bloody Sunday March Organising Committee (BSMOC) is a broad-based committee made up of a number of organisations all of which agree that Ireland has a right to self-determination and that only when this is realised will there be a lasting peace.

To ensure that the march is disciplined, peaceful and effective, stewards are required. We are asking those interested in stewarding to get in contact if you are willing to help with stewarding on the day, and also to take part in stewarding preparations already underway.

Enda Finlay,
BSMOC Chief Steward.

Destroy the statelet

A Chairde,

I must first apologise if it was taken by others, as well as Brian MacDomhnaill (An Phoblacht 19 December) that I was questioning their intellectual ability in my previous letter (12 December). My intention was not to suggest that my northern comrades or the populace in general were intellectually-challenged or that they couldn't make the connection between British oppression and the need for British withdrawal.

What I was trying to say was that there is more to the Republican Movement than Brits Out. It is not enough to raise the Tricolour over Belfast City Hall.

All members (and supporters) need to be part of the republican education programme, where all aspects of republicanism is taught, debated and refined. As many members as possible should be involved in republican activities, especially the young.

Those activities should include campaigning, electoralism, community work, propaganda and direct action. Direct action in this case, refers to civil disobedience such as occupations, chainings to railings, sit-downs, border re-openings, barrack dismantlings, media stunts, etc. The term `direct action' was put on these by some head office subcommittee or other.

Brian said the Orange state is irreformable, yet the peace process as currently constituted is falling in with a British agenda. The all-party talks Sinn Féin sought entry to are like the Six-County statelet, based on a pre-determined unionist/loyalist majority. British withdrawal, ending partition and establishing a republic are not likely to make it on to the agenda, never mind be discussed.

If the state is irreformable it needs destruction, or a gentler term dismantling. To dismantle the statelet a combination of strategies needs to be pursued and brought to fruitition. Concentrating on one strategy, be it electoralism, military, broad-front or Hume/Adams will not succeed, as has been shown over the decades.

Deirdre Nic an tSaoir.

EU and Cuba

A Chairde,

In his excellent article on the US blockade of Cuba (An Phoblacht 9 January) Dara Mac Neill asks the question; what side will the European Union take in future years if the US continues its present policies towards Cuba?

Consider what the EU Commissioner Jacques Santer had to say on the matter. He stated that while the EU and the US ``may differ on the means, we certainly agree on the end goal''. The end goal - and the US has always been quite honest about this - is the overthrow of the Cuban government. Already the EU and the US are agreeing not to interfere with each others interests over Cuba, but instead to gang up on Cuba using and abusing the issue of democracy and human rights.

The truth is that for all their talk of democracy both the US and the EU cannot find a shred of tolerance for a tiny island which wants to remain socialist in an overwhelmingly capitalist world. Such intolerance for any alternative economic and political model to capitalism should concern us all and not be just left to the Cubans to worry about.

Declan McKenna,
Cuba Support Group Ireland,
15 Merrion Square,
Dublin 2.

Garda targeting communities

A Chairde,

The recent arrests and detention of people involved in the anti-drugs campaign brings to mind the reaction of the establishment to the Concerned Parents movement in the early 1980s.

Then, as now, the Gardaí put more resources into harassing anti-drugs activist than they did in combating the drug dealers and barons with the result that these same dealers are, 15 years later, still engaging in their criminal and despicable trade.

The notion that the anti-drugs campaign is being orchestrated by subversive groups, which is being disseminated by the Gardaí ad nauseam, is obviously aimed at alienating the public from the campaign.

It should be remembered that the only reason the anti-drugs campaign was re-started early in 1996 was because ordinary people, whose lives have been devastated by the drugs problem, got sick and tired of the platitudes of politicians and the inability of the Gardaí to protect their communities from criminals.

The anti-drugs campaign is exactly that. There is no other agenda. The antics of the Gardaí over the last few months give little regard to the courage and commitment of communities who, with scant resources, have confronted the drug barons and have succeeded in many cases in driving these pariahs from their midst.

It is high time the Gardaí were called to account for their inaction in addressing the drugs problem. That they concentrate their resources on intimidating and harassing the very people who they are sworn to protect is nothing short of a scandal.

We strongly suggest that Assistant Commissioner King starts doing the job he is paid to do and stop looking for excuses to avoid doing it.

Don't repeat the mistakes that were made in the 1980s, the country cannot afford it.

Pete Smyth
PRO, Coalition of Communities Against Drugs,
Killinarden Community Centre,
Dublin 24.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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